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CDC Calls on Healthcare Professionals to Help Fight Hospital Acquired Infections

US hospitals have made significant reductions in the incidence of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) over the past decade, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed.
The March 3, 2016 Vital Signs, a report released by the CDC, found that American healthcare facilities experienced a 50% decrease in central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) between 2008 and 2014 and a 17% decrease in surgical site infections (SSIs) over the same period. The report also noted that infections caused by Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), the most common bacteria responsible for HAIs, decreased by 8% between 2011 and 2014. According to the CDC, C. difficile was linked to nearly 500,000 HAIs in the US in 2011 alone.
“On any given day, about 1 in 25 hospitalized patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection that they didn't come in with,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, noted in a media telebriefing for the Vital Signs report. “No one should get sick when they're trying to get well.”
Although there are signs indicating that hospitals have made marked improvements in this regard, the agency notes that there is still cause for alarm. The Vital Signs report found “no change” in the incidence of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) between 2009 and 2014, although there has been a reduction in the incidence of CAUTIs in non-ICU settings between 2013 and 2014. CAUTIs, like all HAIs, are often caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, making them a challenge to prevent and/or contain.
During the telebriefing, Dr. Frieden informed the media that in an effort to better track and prevent these infections, hospitals should report all HAIs to the CDC, including infections caused by C. difficile as well as post-op infections, CLABSIs and CAUTIs. Despite the improvement of incidence numbers, the CDC is “calling on doctors, nurses, health care facility administrators and state and local health departments to continue to do their part to prevent HAIs” through initiatives designed to “prevent the spread of bacteria between patients, prevent infections related to surgery and/or placement of a catheter and improve antibiotic use through stewardship.”
“There is encouraging news here,” Dr. Frieden said. “But we need to do much more. We’re working with other federal partners, especially the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to prevent infections in healthcare and use the data that’s reported to target prevention at every level. We believe that doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are key to making more progress preventing these infections. They have the power to change the direction of antibiotic resistance nationally, each and every time they care for their patients.”
Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition.
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